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Interview: The Man Behind A389

June 14, 2012

Heavy Metal Interview Dom of A389

Before we get started on this interview make sure you head over to http://www.a389records.com/site/ and check out the amazing roster that Dom has put together at A389. If you don’t go right away you will read the passion of this hard working man and head over after the interview:

1. A389 is a self-proclaimed “small independent DIY out of Baltimore.” How did you get started and most importantly; why?

I started A389 in 2004 as an avenue to promote cool bands that I thought would fall under the radar otherwise. During most of the label’s existence I played in fairly active bands (such as Pulling Teeth and Slumlords) which gave me a golden opportunity to take new music straight to people who wanted to hear it. Now that PT has played it’s last show (at A389’s 8th Anniversary bash this past January), I stepped back from playing in bands to focus on the label and keep things moving forward.

Music gave me so much growing up, it was always there for me when everything else failed. If the bands and records give someone else that same feeling today, and sets them on a path to play in a band, start their own label or just puts a smile on their face…then ultimately it’s a success. That’s what it’s all about
to me.

2. DIY typically means work your ass off. With the massive roster of artists you have, how do you stay on top of it?

I feel like A389 is like a closet full of way too many things and is jammed shut. Everything I open that door, a million things to do rain on my head…but it’s the nature of the beast. I guess a simpler way to explain would be that I exist in some sort of a phantom realm where things just get manage to get done themselves…kinda like running on autopilot. As far as how…don’t ask / don’t tell.

Heavy Metal News A3893. You have some big names on the scene like Seven Sisters of Sleep, Ringworm, Pharaoh, etc. How do you balance the promotion of the bigger names versus the new upstarts?

Every release is different and the work involved is tailored to fit. A band like SSOS doesn’t really tour so it’s easy to release records around a band who’s legacy is built on their recorded output/imagery. It’s like that for a lot of our bands. The music is really the selling point and if you get to see them perform live then that’s a bonus within itself. On the flipside you have a band like FULL OF HELL who tour an insane amount and are always working hard/hustling trying to achieve more and more that require more attention to deadlines and bigger pushes that sort of thing. It’s kind of like gardening. You’re growing all kinds of of things that require different care but at the end of the day, it all serves the same greater purpose and goes to the same place in the end.

4. Tell us about the mix tape project you have going on. What has the response been?

It’s something we do every year. It’s a great way to show off everything we’ve been working on for the year and turn a lot of people onto a lot of cool music for FREE. When we started it out, it was all about burning CDRs making cool covers and handing them out at shows. Nowadays CDs are pretty much treated as glorified coasters (yet people think cassettes rule…go figure) so we made the compilations available for FREE download. This way the amount of potential listeners is limitless. As far as a response goes, it’s been really cool to see people excited to listen to new music.

5. There is also the A389 showcase of metal and other oddities. Please give our readers some details.

Every January I throw a show to celebrate my birthday as well as A389’s anniversary. I try to combine bands on the label with cool bands I’d like to see. People travel from all over the world for it, and each year it gets bigger and badder. We’ve had everyone from Haymaker to Eyehategod to Ithe Canadian metal god THOR come play alongside tons of A389 bands It’s always a great time. A few weeks ago Scion A/V invlited us out to do a sattelite showcase in California and we had Integrity, Ringworm, SSOS, The Love Below and YAITW show them how it’s done. It was a great time, YAITW killed it.

6. Your site www.a389records.com has tons of interaction with your fans. Do you expect your artists to involve their fans in the same manner?

I like talking rock. It’s fun to talk about music and the folklore around it and it shows if you are a ‘friend’ of A389 on Facebook. We all talk about cool stuff every day and anyone is invited to participate. It’s a great way to turn people onto cool bands whos demos I get in the mail, lbut am not able to do a record for right now. I enjoy the interaction with everyone whether they love it or hate it. As far as the bands go, it really depends on what their whole vibe is about. I like that some bands are elusive/hard to find details about and that other are accessible. Like I said, it all depends on the overall vibe of the band.

Heavy Metal Interview A389 Records Interview7. I want to talk about professionalism on and off the stage. Is this something you promote to your artists and what does “professionalism” as an artist mean?

I’d pretty much sum it up as: show up when/where you are supposed to and deliver what you are supposed to deliver.

8. Why do more extreme or underground metal acts tend not to have the “rock star” attitude of a lot of metal stars?

I wouldn’t know. I get anxiety around people I don’t know and don’t really like hanging out. Everyone I work with is pretty much on the level and easy to work with. All of us have weird personalities and quirks, but that’s why we’re here and not doing something important like being doctors and scientists haha.

9. Big labels continue to complain about internet downloading, but DIY labels such as yourself stay optimistic and forge ahead. Other than money, what is the major difference?

The plus side is that anyone in any remote corner in the world with a computer can listen to/enjoy the music. I think that’s awesome. Asides from the obvious loss of income (yes, it does cost money to do this) I think it’s breeding a generation who are bombarded with stimulation 24/7 and hardly anything sticks in their heads anymore. It’s made everything seem very disposable and that can be the most discouraging thing to deal with at times. The apathy and laziness. My boss at my day job said it best man..’fast food for the mind’.

10. What is the dream of A389?

Ultimately to someday leave something cool behind for my daughter. Realistically, I might be able to buy her a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

11. To finish up: If you could sign any band in the world: who would it be and why?

The Scorpions. Because they’re The Scorpions.

Thanks Dom.

Metal on,


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